Hoag, Edwards Lifesciences Are Bully on Irvine Exploring Community Choice Energy

Any of you residential utility ratepayers remember several years back, when we were allowed to “purchase” our power from someone other than Southern California Edison?

And did any of you, like me, choose to go with a company that invested in renewable energy like wind and solar?

And did any of you, like me, start receiving ridiculously low electricity bills as a result until Edison lobbyists screamed like holy hell and the gubment swooped in to shut that shit down?

Ah, good times, good times.

Anyways, that immediately sprang to mind while reading something the nonprofit, San Diego-based Climate Action Campaign laid at my feet, which oddly look exactly like my email inbox.

Following the bouncing kilowatt:

Last fall, Irvine’s Green Ribbon Committee recommended that the city study “community choice energy,” a.k.a. community choice aggregation or “CCA” and the hepcats call it.

Most Orange County cities receive power from Edison. Under a CCA program, cities could choose to purchase power on behalf of their residents and businesses from clean-energy providers at competitive prices.

As the handy-dandy graphic up top shows, Edison (or whoever maintains the lines in a city) would still deliver energy and bill customers. 

The Irvine City Council, which unanimously approved the Green Ribbon Committee recommendation, could award a CCA contract as soon as July, which would make it the first in Orange County to do so.

That pleases Robin Ganahl, a Climate Action Campaign organizer in Orange County. “When businesses learn that community choice allows them to have a choice of providers for their electricity service instead of being stuck with a monopoly whose base rates are 50 percent higher than the national average (industrial rates are even higher), it’s a no brainer for them,” Ganahl says.

“One business owner I spoke with said it would be a really bad idea for Irvine not to do a study of community choice, given all the potential benefits and savings to the community. The overwhelmingly positive response from the business community is a real game changer for the community choice movement in Orange County.”

Perhaps that business owner was affiliated with Edwards Lifesciences or Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.

“We are particularly interested in stabilizing or reducing energy costs for businesses and the opportunity for a local community choice program to buy increasing amounts of power from local sources, supporting jobs and local economic development,” says Tom Porter, vice president, Corporate Services with Edwards Lifesciences, in a Climate Action Campaign release. The medical device company, which pioneered artificial heart valves, employs 5,000 in Irvine.

“Hoag … is interested in a study that would provide insight for stabilizing or reducing energy costs” says Sanford Smith, Senior Vice President, Real Estate, Facilities, Construction and Operations, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, in the same release, which ends with this from Climate Action Campaign:

“We applaud the leadership of Mayor Don Wagner for seeing the potential in community choice as a business-friendly, fiscally responsible way to speed up the transition to clean energy future and improve the quality of life for all who live and work in Irvine. We encourage other cities to get started with their studies to enjoy the benefits of choice, revenue staying local, and moving from a for-profit to a not-for-profit.”

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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